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Japan funding renovation of iconic Chroy Changvar Bridge

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The Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge (right) and the more recently built Chinese-funded bridge that is handling traffic while the renovations are carried out. Moeun Nhean

Japan funding renovation of iconic Chroy Changvar Bridge

Renovation of the Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, which connects the Chroy Changvar peninsula to the capital, is underway and nearly 12 percent of the extensive repairs have been completed since commencing in October. The $33 million project, funded by a grant from the Japanese government through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

The 713-metre span over the Mekong River was built in 1966 with Japanese aid. The bridge was severely damaged during the civil war, with large portions destroyed in 1972 and 1973 after Khmer Rouge forces sowed it with landmines. The bridge remained out of service until the 1990s, when the Japanese government provided financial and technical assistance to repair and reopen it.

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Construction work on the bridge’s embankment. Moeun Nhean

The current renovation project was initiated after a JICA team discovered cracks in the bridge’s support pillars.

Satoshi Adachi, superviser of Central Consultant Inc, a Japanese firm providing consultancy services for the bridge rehabilitation project, said it would be risky to simply patch up the five-decade-old bridge and put it back into service. Instead, a comprehensive renovation is being carried out on a 24-month timeline.

“It is imperative that everything is done with the highest technical quality, as well as state-of-the-art technology,” he said.

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A steel cage to strengthen cement supports. Moeun Nhean

Pal Oudong, a civil engineer at Central Consultant, said 230 people are working on the project, including 130 workers stationed full time at the site and 10 technical experts from Japan.

“The tools and equipment used on the bridge repairs have been imported from Japan,” he said. “Some of the machinery, such as the tower crane and spray painting machine, is the same state-of-the-art equipment used in Japan.”

Oudong added that the concrete beam bridge, including its embankments, is 971 metres long and comprised of three main sections. The roadway embankments at either end extend a total of 258 metres, while the approach slabs cover 168 metres and the main span over the river is 545 metres long.

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Scaffolding below a section of the Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge. Moeun Nhean

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